Polyphemus

Greek Cyclopes

Background Information

Polyphemus was the son of Poseidon (God of the sea, earthquakes, and horses) and the Nymph Thoosa. He lived in a cave in an island named Sicily. He was a Shepard and part of a large cyclopes tribe. Cyclopes were giant, one-eyed creatures. They were blacksmiths for Zeus and the gods. Polyphemus was a cannibal who not only at flesh, but ate it raw. He was giant, violent, and feared very little.

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Character Description

Polyphemus was a giant, strong, and one-eyed creature. Not only did he have a frightening appearance, but he was said to be the most violent and evil cyclopes. You couldn't reason with him. Polyphemus thought he was better than the gods and gave no respect towards them. Despite his cruelty, the other cyclopes still liked him and would come to his aid if necessary. To top off his terrifying traits, Polyphemus used giant rocks as his weapon. He would hurl rocks at his prey.

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Role in the Odyssey

It all began when Odysseus and his 12 crew members invaded Polyphemus's cave when he wasn't home. When he returned home he determined the crew members as prey instead of guests and blocked the exit of the cave with a giant boulder. Polyphemus ate two crew members every day. One day he promised Odysseus he would eat him last because Odysseus had brought him wine. Little did Polyphemus know, Odysseus had a plan. When only six crew members were left alive he got him drunk. Then Odysseus convinced him his name was, "Nobody". He heated up a large stake and stabbed Polyphemus in the eye when he was sleeping. When Polyphemus yelled for help he yelled, "Nobody is hurting me!" so the other cyclopes didn't come to his aid. Odysseus and his crew then escaped by hiding under the bellies of Polyphemus's sheep and escaped, taunting him. Polyphemus, upset that he was now blind, called upon his father to avenge him. Poseidon then put a curse on Odysseus that prevents his homecoming.

The Dictionary of Classical Mythology

Life After the Odyssey

Polyphemus wasn't completely unable of loving his whole life. He became a changed cyclopes when he met a woman named Nereid Galatea. Unfortunately, Galatea was in love with a man named Acis (God of the rivers in Sicily). Upset that Galatea rejected him and jealous of Acis, Polyphemus killed him by crushing him under a huge rock. Polyphemus then forced Galatea to settle down with him and have children. It isn't known for sure or not if Galatea ever ended up actually loving Polyphemus, but it is near impossible that she loved him as much as he loved her.

Who’s Who in Greek and Roman Mythology

Works Cited

Emmons, Jim Tschen. "Cyclopes." World History: Ancient and Medieval Eras.

ABC-CLIO, 2014. Web. 9 Nov. 2014.


"Polyphemus." World History: Ancient and Medieval Eras.

ABC-CLIO, 2014. Web. 9 Nov. 2014.


Kravitz, David. Who's Who in Greek and Roman Mythology. London: New English Library, 1975. Print.


Grimal, Pierre. The Dictionary of Classical Mythology. Blackwell Reference, 1986. Print.